Users of Quebec’s vaccine passport will eventually be required to receive three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to access places mandated to check them, health minister Christian Dubé announced today (January 6) during a press conference. Before being ordered shut on December 31, 2021, Quebec restaurant dining rooms were among the non-essential services required to check customers’ vaccine passports for entry. The same goes for bars, closed earlier, on December 20, 2021.
Dubé did not specify when the third dose requirement would go into effect, but he did clarify that it wouldn’t be until Quebecers had been allotted enough time to get the jab. Currently, people 50 and over are eligible for a third dose; according to a revised vaccination schedule, adults ages 18 and older will qualify on January 17.
During today’s press conference, Dubé also confirmed that Quebec has decided to move forward with plans to expand the list of businesses to which the vaccine passport mandate applies to include the province’s government-owned liquor and cannabis retailers — the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ) the Société québécoise du cannabis (SQDC), respectively.
The SAQ and SQDC will begin scanning vaccine passports on January 18. Dubé hopes this added restriction for the in-person purchase of alcohol and weed at the government shops will serve as an incentive to those who still aren’t vaccinated. At the moment, 89 percent of Quebecers 5 years old and up have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Eighty-two percent have had two, and 19 percent have received three.
The decision to tighten the parameters of the vaccine passport comes as Quebec continues to wrestle with rising COVID-19 hospitalizations. On January 6, the province reported 415 people infected with the virus admitted to the hospital the previous day, January 5. Projections released this morning by the Institut national d’excellence en santé et en services sociaux show that Quebec could soon reach 3,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations. Meanwhile, the province’s healthcare system is short 20,000 workers who are off sick, Dubé says.
The vaccine passport first went into effect in Quebec, including at restaurants and bars, on September 1, 2021, and currently flashes green with the phrase “Adequately protected” for anyone who has received two doses of the vaccine.